The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain.

Have you ever been so frustrated with yourself- with your health and your body that you decide to embark on a lifestyle change?

I did just that over the last four weeks, trying to focus on going gluten-free and follow the tenets of Grain Brain, a book by Dr. David Perlmutter, MD – with a four-week Grain Brain challenge that prescribes a program and lifestyle designed to foster lifestyle changes that will lead to a healthier life.

Dr. Perlmutter believes that fat is a fundamental “pillar” of our nutrition- aka, we need good fats like DHA Omega-3 and that by reducing our intake and reliance on carbs for fuel, we can change the course of our health for the better.

The four key components of the Grain Brain program:

  • Shifting your body away from relying on carbs for fuel and adding brain health supplements
  • Incorporating a fitness routine
  • Getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week
  • Establishing a new rhythm to maintain these healthy habits

So….the big question is– what happened after four weeks on the Grain Brain challenge?

four weeks on grain brain challenge | LiveDoGrow


How did I do with the Grain Brain program?

In the book,  Dr. Perlmutter describes the optimum results after  four weeks of Grain Brain program:

“…you’ll shift your diet from relying on carbs an rehabilitate your body back to optimal health. This will be the place where you will feel vibrant, energetic and mentally sharp.”

Let me be honest: while I did well with parts of the four week challenge, others were harder for me to master.

Shifting away from relying on carbs and adding brain health supplements

The easy part of this component was taking the brain health supplements. I had to buy a pill box organized by day to be sure, but I can call this aspect of the challenge a success. I think that I did notice better memory and ability to focus- as well as reduced headaches.

As far as going gluten-free….The short version is that I am going to maintain a gluten-free diet, at least mostly. I did incredibly well the ten days of the challenge, mainly because I spent time meal planning for each day. I fell off the gluten-free wagon during a mother-daughter weekend away and though I mostly maintained a reduced carb and gluten-free diet, I had my bad days. The silver lining of having the bad days is that I noticed the difference in my body between when I was gluten-free and when I had slacked…mainly in the observation that I was much more “snacky” after having eaten gluten and carbs. I was also decidedly less bloated when I stayed “on plan”…which was one of my goals.

Incorporating a fitness routine

Despite my continued hip injury, I was feeling stronger in the last month. I took more walks, was a regular at the Pilates studio and even incorporated more stretching.  Did I overcome my constant sitting from working at home? No. Yes, I started to ramp up my activity, but there is still a long road ahead in this department.

Getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week

A restful sleep routine is where I failed miserably with the Grain Brain program. As in, I tried to make an effort to go to sleep earlier….during the first week…but after that, my late nights on the computer, and then playing Angry Birds crept back up on me. I cannot honestly tell you when the last time I felt fully rested was, but I know that this is a key aspect of the program that I did not succeed with, which in turn probably impacted my overall success.

Establishing a new rhythm to maintain these healthy habits

Overall, trying four weeks of the Grain Brain lifestyle– I learned a few things.

I see the benefits of going gluten-free. A few people have asked me if I lost weight- and the answer is- yes–and no. Those first ten days when I was being so good– I lost 3.5 pounds. But then, with bad days sprinkled in and a lack of meal planning – those pounds are back.

There are a lot of fabulous gluten-free recipes out there. While Grain Brain has several recipes that I enjoyed, I also used Pinterest and the Runners World Cookbook for ideas. My favorite new recipe, hands down, is cauliflower rice -which is gluten-free, low calories and very tasty (also- incredibly easy to make).

Gluten-Free cauliflower rice pilaf | LiveDoGrow

To make cauliflower rice pilaf  I sautéed olive oil, celery and  red onions- seasoned with salt and pepper and then added coarsely chopped cauliflower in the saute’ pan to bring it all together – and could easily eat this several times a week. There are several variations on the cauliflower rice recipe, but it is an easy group of ingredients to play with and explore variations.

Eggs with DHA Omega-3 also became a staple food for breakfast. My favorite combination was a simple scramble with two eggs and either goat cheese or parmesan cheese. The truth is that working from home, my breakfast habits had not been wonderful…so by forcing myself to make eggs on most days, I started out each day fueled. (When not eating eggs for breakfast, I found that an avocado with a drop of olive oil and juice from a lemon made for a quick and easy breakfast).

My goals in trying the Grain Brain challenge were to reduce my current inflammations, lose weight, feel healthier and impact my long term health. I think that I my digestive inflammations did decrease, which is a victory. I think that despite several hectic weeks, my memory and ability to focus were also sharper- which is also a victory. The rest….well, those will come. I know that I have a long way to go- that will involve continuing to take health supplements, continue to develop my fitness routine and make sleep a priority. Making lifestyle changes that stick takes time–and not trying is not an option.

What about you? Have you made any lifestyle changes to your diet, fitness or sleep routine?

Elena Sonnino signature | LiveDoGrow

I received a copy of the book, Grain Brain and supplies of nutritional supplements as part of this sponsored campaign.


Written by Elena Sonnino

Elena Sonnino

Chaser of Dreams. Life coach, wellness and travel writer, yogini, former teacher, adventure seeker, hiker, foodie …and oh right, cancer survivor. Elena writes about finding everyday wellness in far-flung lands and in her own backyard in the Washington D.C. suburbs.


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